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GM Sees Big Future in EN-V Commuter; People With Taste Disagree

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On: Wed, Dec 8, 2010 at 9:56AM | By: Chris Weiss

GM Sees Big Future in EN-V Commuter; People With Taste Disagree

GM is currently hard at work on a vehicle that won't so much rival other cars and trucks as it will public transportation. The automaker believes that its EN-V is the perfect solution for urban commuting where space, traffic, and pollution are factors that argue against more traditional vehicles. GM is hoping that the future of urban driving will look a lot like its "Electric Networked Vehicle."

According to Detroit News, GM is thinking globally rather than nationally with its EN-V, feeling that it will make most sense in huge cities like Beijing and Shanghai. The concept offers a number of advantages for urban commuting including a slim, two-wheel profile, small, zero-emissions, electric powertrain, and the ability to wirelessly communicate with other vehicles on the road, something that will presumably make zipping in and out of traffic in a tiny, two-wheeled pod a little safer.

GM introduced a concept version of the EN-V at the Shanghai World Expo last spring. The concept used two in-wheel motors powered by lithium-ion-phosphate batteries. Since the motors were built into the wheels, they were designed to serve for braking as well as motivation, eliminating the need for separate braking hardware. The concept was designed to be driven manually or autonomously. In the latter, the EN-V would use technologies including vehicle-to-vehicle communication, GPS, and sensors to essentially drive for you. The small powertrain delivered up to 25 miles of range and 25 mph worth of speed—enough for the short, urban commutes that GM envisions it being used for.

At the time that it was introduced, Larry Burns, at the time GM’s vice president for research and development and strategic planning, expressed the company's seriousness about taking the lead in this market segment. The New York Times quoted him as stating: "We were the S.U.V. company, and we accept that. We want to become the U.S.V. company—known for ultra-small vehicles."

The EN-V was based on the platform of another urban commuter that GM introduced a year earlier: the P.U.M.A. or Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility. It developed that prototype in partnership with Segway, already a player in the urban mobility market.

GM has built 10 EN-V prototypes and will soon be bringing the model to both the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Both shows are in January.

The automaker still has its work cut out for it; according to the Detroit News, it will be another 10 years before an EN-V or similar model is ready for market. When it is ready, GM plans to introduce it overseas, rather than in the U.S.



Pengiknits | 6:12PM (Fri, Dec 10, 2010)

This is such a cute little car although I am not sure I would ever be brave enough to drive it around other cars.

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